About the Foundation

The Phyllis & Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation sponsors the work of new and emerging leaders to increase this region’s capacity for generating effective public policy solutions, breakthroughs for neurologic and mental illnesses, and world-class art. The work is accomplished through strategic partnerships with Harvard University, Boston College Law School, Massachusetts General Hospital, McLean Hospital, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund and the DeCordova Sculpture Park & Art Museum. The Foundation’s desire is to connect individuals with demonstrated leadership capability, intellectual rigor, and integrity, who can make meaningful change in greater Boston.

The Foundation fosters innovative thinking, productive dialogue and creative alliances. By valuing and rewarding those who show commitment and success the Foundation provides grant recipients with opportunities and resources to strengthen their careers in countless ways.

Why Public Policy, Medical Research and Art?

There are millions of worthy causes and ideas that could benefit from money and support.  Why does the Rappaport Foundation choose to target its time, intelligence and energy to advance public policy, medical research and art?  After all, these are broad categories that appear to be dissimilar but they are not.

The Rappaport Family, some of whom serve on the board of directors alongside Founder Jerome Lyle Rappaport and Foundation Chair, Phyllis Rappaport has a singular goal in mind: to strengthen Boston and its surrounding communities where it counts most, within the ranks of leadership.

State and Local Leadership in Massachusetts

Leaders of our Commonwealth are found in the appointed and elected officials who run our cities and towns. These men and women represent the heart of public policy.  The Foundation is steadfast in its belief that effective public policy solutions have the best opportunity to rise to the surface if our political leaders are provided with:

  • Cutting edge and non-partisan academic research into areas of public concern including housing, transportation, education, crime prevention
  • The opportunity to interact with leading experts and the best and brightest our colleges and universities have to offer.

In the years before the creation of the Foundation, when Jerry Rappaport was working in and around political circles, he often thought, “If academics and practitioners had a vehicle in which each could listen to the other and began to problem-solve the tough issues together, Boston and the Commonwealth would be a better place to live and work.”

That germ of an idea is the basis of work being carried out now at Harvard University and Boston College Law School.

Medical Research

No gene has ever been linked to mental illness.  In fact what causes mental illness continues to be a scientific mystery.  The nucleus of our well-being is grounded in quality medical research and few other kinds of research carries the same stigma as those devoted to neurologic and mental health diseases.  Massachusetts is blessed with several world-renowned medical research facilities focused on understanding and ultimately curing neurologic and mental health diseases.

How Big is the Problem?

The statistics speak for themselves. The National Institute of Health reports that:

An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time. Nearly half (45 percent) of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for 2 or more disorders…

Note: In the U.S., mental disorders are diagnosed based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV).

The Rappaport Foundation is passionate in its belief that it is imperative to focus resources into the root causes of and potential treatments for diseases that wipe out the potential of so many, so often and so needlessly.

Leadership as an Art Form

Think of the ways artists shape the way we look at the world and one other.  Artists, like leaders in politics and medicine, have the potential to influence our perspective on life and the nature of self.

Contemporary artists work in the now.  In raising the awareness of and appreciation for the artistic leaders among us today, the Rappaport Foundation hopes to inspire a community and perhaps, a nation.

The Phyllis & Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation is about leadership – how to develop, nurture and celebrate it and this kind of work can’t help but benefit the people in our community.   The Rappaport Foundation cares deeply about the health and well-being of Boston and Massachusetts.  It also recognizes that its touch-points have a way of escaping town lines and inspiring those who live beyond our borders.